Gut health is so important to your overall physical and emotional health. An imbalance in the gut may contribute to the development of issues like allergies, skin conditions, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even some autoimmune diseases and certain types of cancer. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help heal your gut and reduce inflammation, but how did the gut get inflamed in the first place? Let’s take a look at some bad habits that might be hurting your gut, and some good habits we can replace them with.
Processed Foods and Sugar
When we use the term “processed foods” we are referring to unhealthy pre-packaged foods that contain unnatural and unhealthy ingredients. Things like artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, trans fats, refined vegetable oils, high-fructose corn syrup, and MSG (monosodium glutamate – an excitotoxin) just to name a few. You can read more about artificial sweeteners and excitotoxins here. Trans fats increase LDL “bad” cholesterol and lower HDL “good” cholesterol, while vegetable oils corn and canols oils are high in inflammatory omega-6 fats. High-fructose corn syrup can increase inflammation and may contribute to insulin resistance, obesity, non-acoholic fatty liver disease, and some types of cancer. These are just a few examples of some inflammatory ingredients that can be found in processed foods, this is why it is best to choose natural whole foods, and always read ingredient labels on pre-packaged products.
Many processed foods also contain large amounts of sugar. Consuming too much sugar can increase your risk of developing a number of different health conditions like diabetes and heart disease, among others. In addition to its affects on blood sugar levels, sugar can also increase inflammation in the body, and it can also “feed” bad bacteria in our guts, allowing them to flourish.
Overuse of Antibiotics
Antibiotics can be a life-saving tool to fight off infections, but they can also kill off good bacteria. We have more bacteria in our bodies than cells, and these bacteria play important roles in our health, so it’s important to keep them balanced. If you frequently take antibiotics, it may be killing off too much of the good bacteria in your gut. These bacteria are still being studied, but researchers have found that some types of bacteria in our gut play important roles in synthezising neurotransmitters like serotonin. This is one reason why gut health is believed to influence emotional health. The bacteria in our guts are also a key part of our immune system. Taking a probiotic each night may help increase your good bacteria.
Start by cutting out processed foods and sugars as much as you can, and replace them with organic whole foods like fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats, and good fats like coconut oil and olive oil. Eating these foods will help give your body the nutrients it needs to work on reducing inflammation and healing any damage the inflammation may have caused. Consuming the right nutrients can also help boost immune system function, potentially making you sick less often which may mean less antibiotics. There are also many supplements you can take to help heal your gut like GI Support Vanilla, SBI Support (available in powder or capsules), Saccharomyces Boulardii, and many others. Consuming organic bone broth every day is another great way to help heal the lining of your gut and reduce inflammation. Bone broth also contains amino acids and collagen that can help improve gut health and digestion.
Eating a diet rich in natural foods and low in processed foods and keeping your immune system healthy can help reduce inflammation which may help reduce your risk of developing many different health conditions. When it comes to nutrition and lifestyle changes, every little bit helps. Healing takes time, but you’ll be glad you did it!
You can listen to our What Gut Type Are You? podcast here.